TV company at centre of global news fixing row goes into administration

Collapse follows investigation by The Independent

A London-based media company at the centre of a global news-fixing row that has engulfed the BBC and CNBC has gone into administration after it was revealed in
The Independent that it made programmes for the BBC about Malaysia while taking £17m from the Malaysian government to promote its image.

FBC Media (UK) and its parent company FBC Group, with offices in the City, called in administrators on Monday, days before the BBC Trust is due to consider a report prepared by the BBC Executive on a series of programmes that the production company made for broadcast on the corporation's international news and current affairs channel BBC World News.

The company is also under investigation by the American-owned broadcaster CNBC, for which it produced a flagship weekly show called World Business. The programme has been dropped and CNBC, part of the NBC network, has suspended all programming from FBC, which continues to maintain a presence in Italy and India. The subject is also being examined by Ofcom.

In August, The Independent revealed that since 2009 FBC has made at least four programmes for the BBC about Malaysia after being allocated millions of pounds by the Kuala Lumpur government to conduct a "Global Strategic Communications Campaign". FBC, which did PR work as well as making television content, also hired the American lobbying company APCO for the purpose of "raising awareness of the importance of policies in Malaysia that are pro-business and pro-investment".

The story has caused a political row in Malaysia which threatens to cause lasting damage to the BBC's reputation for impartiality. Then last month, FBC was shown to have promised its client Microsoft "guaranteed" coverage on the show that it made for CNBC.

But FBC denied any impropriety and said, via its lawyers, that "at no time have the television programmes made for the BBC ever been influenced or affected by our client's commercial activities". FBC's lawyers said the company ran production and commercial divisions which "are and always have been quite separate and distinct".

The company's affairs are now in the hands of Buckinghamshire-based administrators Hillier Hopkins Corporate Recovery. FBC, incorporated in 1998, was a vehicle for high-profile figures led by founder and chairman Alan Friedman, an American former award-winning reporter for the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune.

They built a network of blue-chip clients that included the governments of Greece, Italy and Zambia, with contracts to promote tourism in Malaysia, Indonesia and Hungary.

Carter-Ruck, the law firm which has previously represented FBC, did not return calls last night.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week